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Food Allergy Essentials

Common Allergens

Although nearly any food can trigger an allergic reaction, there are nine foods that cause the majority of reactions.

Milk in Glass Jugs

Milk

Allergy to cow’s milk is the most common food allergy in infants and young children. About 2.5 percent of children under age 3 are allergic to milk. Nearly all infants who develop an allergy to milk do so in their first year of life.

Eggs

Egg

Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children, second only to milk allergy. Most children eventually outgrow an allergy to egg. Learn more.

Peanuts and Peanut Butter

Peanut

Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. Peanuts are not the same as tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.), which grow on trees. Peanuts grow underground and are part of a different plant family, the legumes. Other examples of legumes include beans, peas, lentils and soybeans. Being allergic to peanuts does not mean you have a greater chance of being allergic to another legume.

Soybeans

Soy

Soybean allergy is one of the more common food allergies, especially in babies and children. Soybeans are a member of the legume family. Beans, peas, lentils and peanuts are also legumes. Being allergic to soy does not mean you have a greater chance of being allergic to another legume, including peanut.

Wheat products

Wheat

Wheat allergy is most common in children and is usually outgrown before adulthood. Two-thirds of children with a wheat allergy outgrow it by age 12. An allergy to wheat is not the same as celiac disease.

tree nut

Tree Nut

Tree nut allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children and adults. Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio and Brazil nuts. They are not the same as peanuts, which are legumes, or seeds, such as sunflower or sesame.

Shellfish

Shellfish

Shellfish is one of the more common food allergies. This allergy usually is lifelong. About 60 percent of people with shellfish allergy experience their first allergic reaction as adults. There are two groups of shellfish: crustacea (such as shrimp, crab and lobster) and mollusks (such as clams, mussels, oysters and scallops). Crustacea cause most shellfish reactions, and these tend to be severe. Finned fish and shellfish are not related. Being allergic to one does not always mean that you must avoid both.

Fresh Fish

Fish

Finned fish is one of the most common food allergies. This allergy usually is lifelong. About 40 percent of people with fish allergy experience their first allergic reaction as adults. Salmon, tuna and halibut are the most common types of fish people are allergic to. Finned fish and shellfish are not related. Being allergic to one does not always mean that you must avoid both.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame

Sesame is a flowering plant that produces edible seeds. It is a common ingredient in cuisines around the world, from baked goods to sushi. Several reports suggest this allergy has increased significantly worldwide over the past two decades. Current U.S. federal law does not require sesame to be declared by food manufacturers. FARE supports adding sesame to the list of “major food allergens” that must appear on ingredient labels of processed foods. In the meantime, FARE continues to expand its educational resources to support people with sesame allergy.

Other Food Allergens

A person can be allergic to virtually any food. Learn more about less common allergens.

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